Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


'Shelf life' of blood? Shorter than we think

A small study from Johns Hopkins adds to the growing body of evidence that red blood cells stored longer than three weeks begin to lose the capacity to deliver oxygen-rich cells where they may be most needed.

In a report published online in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, the Johns Hopkins investigators say red cells in blood stored that long gradually lose the flexibility required to squeeze through the body's smallest capillaries to deliver oxygen to tissue. Moreover, they say, that capacity is not regained after transfusion into patients during or after surgery.

"There's more and more information telling us that the shelf life of blood may not be six weeks, which is what the blood banks consider standard," says study leader Steven M. Frank, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "If I were having surgery tomorrow, I'd want the freshest blood they could find."

Frank acknowledges that blood banks do not have enough fresh blood for everybody, and that shorter storage periods would result in diminished inventory. But he says that the current practice of transfusing blood stored up to six weeks may need to be reconsidered.

One previous, large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has already shown that cardiac surgery patients who received blood stored longer than three weeks were almost twice as likely to die as patients who got blood that had been stored for just 10 days.

For the new study, Frank and his colleagues enrolled 16 patients scheduled to have spinal fusion surgery, a type of operation that typically requires blood transfusions. Six of the patients received five or more units of blood, while 10 needed three or fewer units. The researchers drew samples from every bag of blood used — 53 in total — and measured the flexibility of the red blood cells. What they found is that blood older than 3 weeks was more likely to have less flexible red blood cell membranes, a condition that may make it more difficult for blood to deliver oxygen, Frank says.

The team also took blood samples from patients in the three days following surgery. Even though the blood cells were out of storage and back in biological environments with proper pH (acidity), electrolytes and oxygen levels, the injury to the red cells was not reversible and appeared to be permanent. The damaged blood cells would likely remain dysfunctional for their life cycle limit, which is up to 120 days, Frank says.

Frank also noted that patients in the study who got fewer units of blood had healthier red cells overall, even though the blood was just as old and showed cell damage. He says it is likely that a small amount of these problem cells make less of a difference than when a large number of damaged cells are present.

According to the research report, the average age of the blood given in the study was more than 3 weeks. Only three samples in the study were 2 weeks old or less. One reason for the lack of availability of fresher bloods for adults, Frank says, is the routine practice of giving pediatric patients priority for the freshest units.

In fact, he notes, blood banks dispense the oldest blood first so that it doesn't exceed its shelf life before it can be used. "As a colleague said, it's like how they sell milk in the grocery store — they put the oldest cartons out front so they can sell them before they expire," Frank says.

Two large randomized controlled studies, one at many centers across the United States, including Johns Hopkins, and one in Canada, are under way to determine the relative safety of older versus newer blood, and the results are expected next year. Frank says blood banks need to be prepared to change practice if those studies show that a six-week shelf life for blood is just too long.

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging (R01 AG021523) and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01 HL092259-01).

Other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Bagrat Abazyan, M.D.; Masahiro Ono, M.D.; Charles W. Hogue, M.D.; David B. Cohen, M.D., M.P.H.; Daniel E. Berkowitz, M.D.; Paul M. Ness, M.D.; and Viachaslau M. Barodka, M.D.

Ness has consulted for Terumo BCT and Fenwal Labs, both companies involved with blood storage. Nothing in this study directly benefits these companies. The terms of these arrangements are being managed by The Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.

For more information:

Stephanie Desmon | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Medicine Shelf blood cell blood sample cell membrane red blood cells

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>